Viera has new faces, tough schedule ... and high expectations


Viera's Bear Bollinger intercepts a pass during the Hawks' Kickoff Classic game.


They’ve got some new faces in key positions, a new head coach who promises to bring more intensity, and an opening schedule that might be the most brutal in Brevard County.

But don’t tell the Viera Hawks they won’t be one of the top teams in Central Florida once again.

And while most people will point to Viera’s defense as a big reason for that, don’t sleep on an offensive unit that has a lot of potential playmakers.

“It could be the most exciting offense we’ve had,” Viera coach Derek Smith said. “They’re youthful, but very exciting. We’re more run/pass orientated with a quarterback with the capability of taking it to the house every time he touches the football.”

That would be sophomore Bryce Norton, who takes over for Tim DeMorat. Already known for his running ability, Norton took big steps in the passing game during the summer.

With defenses expected to pay a lot of attention to slot receiver Sean Atkins — who caught 13 touchdown passes last season — it could only make things easier for fellow slot receivers Jordy Emmons and Jeremiah Housey along with outside receivers Shamaar Mohr, Caleb Osburn and Karsten Poole.

“This year, the focus is on Sean, so I feel like that’s going to open me up a lot,” Mohr said. “A lot of teams don’t really know about me. I feel like that’s going to be really good.”

Newcomer Jarvelle Francis will see time at running back along with Jalen Housey and Kevin Chandler. The offensive line is set with Andrew Hart and Brady Touzet at the tackles, Chris Murphy and Hunter Plotkin at the guard spots and Gavin Lamp at center.

Originally set to play tackle, Lamp has been moved inside with Touzet, a sophomore, on the outside. Another sophomore, Cooper Liston, also should see action.

Lamp, who played center in youth football, is happy about the move.

“It’s going back to my roots,” he said. “I’m super excited to get back to center.”

Defensively, Viera will be led up front by ends Aaron Thomas and Julius Barfield along with tackles Cooper Davis and Jackson Hatfield. Bear Bollinger and Andre Jones will man the outside linebacker spots with Hunter Lee and Dan Steen lining up inside. The secondary will feature Cortez Reid and Garrett Kaminsky at the corner spots with Quez Menyfield at safety.

Viera will start the season with five consecutive road games — Vero Beach (Kickoff Classic), Rockledge, Fort Dorchester (S.C.), Osceola and Merritt Island — before returning home to play Cocoa. All six teams made the playoffs last year.

Smith, who took over the program from childhood friend Kevin Mays, was Viera’s defensive coordinator the past four seasons.

Asked what difference fans will notice between a Derek Smith coached team and a Mays coached squad, Smith simply said: “intensity.”

“Defense is more intensity, where offense is more finesse. I want to bring more intensity to the football program,” Smith said. “Whereas the offense last year was finesse, I want us to smash people.” VV